about us

Who We Are

The Award Equips Young People for Life


We are an international award for young people that challenges, empowers, and recognizes youth between the ages of 14 and 24. By recognizing the amazing things they do and learn outside the boundaries of formal education, the Award empowers them to discover hidden talents, develop untapped leadership potential and make a difference in their community. 

The Award is delivered by adults who work with young people and is used to enhance existing programming. We offer an experiential learning framework that supports the work done to build young people’s skills and develop the confidence they need to take their future in stride. Our program is run in cities, rural and remote areas, through public and private schools, universities and colleges, and a wide range of organizations such as Scouts, Girl Guides, Indigenous youth groups, new immigrant support programs, sports clubs, employers, youth detention centres, and community youth organizations.

Since 1963, we have helped motivate young people in Canada to set goals and challenge themselves to take control of their lives and futures. Today,  Award Canada can be found coast to coast to coast, engaging over 11,000 young people and over 1,400 adult volunteers annually.



A group of Award participants volunteering

What We Do

The Award challenges young Canadians to develop the skills and tools to improve themselves and their communities by encouraging them to go beyond their comfort zone.

Many young people, through lack of confidence, opportunity, or education, feel incapable of affecting real change in their communities. Our unique framework is designed to help them discover that they are more capable and powerful than they ever dreamed.

For young people, a high school diploma, college certificate or university degree shows technical prowess. An Award certificate demonstrates their individual character and represents the life skills they have developed, including confidence, a sense of purpose, resilience, problem-solving, compassion, and respect for diversity.

Our mission is to ensure the Award, and its benefits, are known and embraced by institutional and individual partners and used as a tool to inspire and guide young people into life enhancing experiences.

Put simply: the Award is largely delivered through Award Leaders and Award Centres, so we need to expand our brand awareness to ensure they know what, why, and how the Award can support young people to be successful.

Our vision is to equip every young person in Canada regardless of background and life circumstance, with the necessary skills and experience to succeed in life.

Put simply: whoever you are, wherever you come from, and whatever you define as success, the Award can be used to help you develop essential skills that only come through experience.

The Award is about individual challenge and developing a sense of commitment. With guidance from Award Leaders, Assessors, or other Award volunteers, each young person is encouraged to examine themselves, their interests, abilities, and ambitions, then set challenges in the four sections of the Award. These challenges become the goals young people aspire to reach and require persistence and determination to overcome.

To be successful in our vision, we have committed to work towards the following three aims in partnership with our delivery partners:

Expand Access

Improve access for new and diverse groups of young people, removing barriers to participation.

Extend Reach

Increase the social infrastructure and geographic reach of the Award, taking the Award to our audiences.

Strengthen Impact

Improve the impact and quality of delivery of the Award, proving the Award is an essential youth program in Canada.

History of the Award

From a Local Youth Program to a Global Accreditation

Prince Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh

Kurt Hahn

German Educationalist and Founder of Outward Bound

Lord Hunt

Leader of the First Successful Ascent of Mount Everest

The Award Grew From the Idea to Bring a Balanced Self-development Program to Young People.

The Award was first launched in The United Kingdom in 1956 to motivate young people to become involved in a balanced program of voluntary self-development activities


Award Inception in the United Kingdom

The Award grew out of the efforts of three men: The Duke of Edinburgh; Kurt Hahn, a German educationalist and founder of Outward Bound, and Lord Hunt, leader of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest. The Award was first launched in The United Kingdom in 1956 to motivate young people to become involved in a balanced program of voluntary self-development activities.


Official Launch in Canada

The Award was officially launched in Canada in 1963 for all young people between the ages of 14 to 24. Enrollment grew steadily and pilot projects were launched in various cities across the country.


First Award Recipients in Canada Receive Bronze and Silver

A handful of ceremonies between May and November in 1964 honoured the very first Award recipients in Canada, totalling 48 Bronze and 6 Silver Award holders in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick.


First Canadian Gold Award Ceremony Held in Ottawa

At the first Gold ceremony in Ottawa in 1966, His Royal Highness, The Prince Philip presented 18 recipients with their Gold Awards, and told the achievers' parents that “I hope it has made them aware of a lot of valuable things they can do in their spare time.


Canada Becomes a Founding Member of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Association

1988 marks the year that the Award in Canada became a founding member of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award International Association. Canada remains one of the four largest National Award Authorities currently.


Canada hosts the International Gold Event

In the summer of 2003, the Award welcomed Gold Award Holders from across the world to Ontario and Quebec for a week of leadership development and networking centered around the aims of the Gold Project.


Canada hosts FORUM 2015

Hosted by the Award Canada in Toronto in 2015, 130 National Award Operators from around the world came together to collaborate on building a new strategic vision for the Award globally.


Revival 2020-2026

Building on the new strategic direction developed by the International Award Foundation, the Award Canada launches a new strategic plan Revival 2020-2026, focused on expanding the Access, Reach and Impact of the Award.


One Pan-Canadian Award Family

With the adoption of the new strategic plan Revival, the Award in Canada merged from being a federated model into a national pan-Canadian national charity.


Celebrating 60 years

Join us in celebrating 60 years of building infinite potential in Canada’s greatest resource, it’s young people.


Global Expansion: the Award Continues to Grow Globally and is Present in Over 130 Countries

Global expansion over the last 50 years has enabled the Award to continue its growth and touch the lives of young people in more than 130 countries. The spread of the Award across the globe is testament to its universal appeal and the vision of its founders. The impact of the Award on young people is extraordinary - it transforms lives.